Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Early Plans

Birthday party plans, that is.  Like, really early.  Like Princess' birthday isn't even until the very, very end of May, but I'm already starting to obsess about what the theme should be this year. 

Last year was the most fun to plan, the most fun to put together, and the most visually beautiful 'do we've had in Sammi's 5 years of parties.  The theme was Olivia, and you may remember these two posts:
Chasing the Crafty DIY Birthday Party and Sammi's Olivia Party Picture Overload

Samantha doesn't have any strong frontrunners in the favorite character department this year, other than the perennial favorite highlighted already last year, and she doesn't have any major favorite activities (unless you want to count school, reading or watching television, none of which make for a particularly interesting or catchy theme), so I'm trying to think generic.  Like maybe a color theme.

Like maybe pink & orange, or turquoise & orange, or turquoise & pink, or, heck, turquoise & anything!  I have two boards on Pinterest dedicated to some of these color combinations:  Blue & Orange  and Pink & Orange, and then there's the ever-mind-shattering inspiration of Oilily.  (So now you've seen 3 of my 5 Pinterest boards, all needing a lot of attention...)  My mom has suggested a field of flowers theme, or butterflies, both of which would be excellent.  I'm thinking maybe flowers and stripes in turquoise & orange (I just love pattern-mixing, thanks to my Oilily past...).  We'll do the party at the local playground again - a definite benefit of having a late spring/summer birthday!

Grabbed this image off the web because it makes me drool...

So, if any of you have any great (read:  EASY and CHEAP) craft ideas that I can pull together quickly and on a dime, please let me know.  If you find anything great (read:  EASY and CHEAP) on Pinterest that you think would work (I'm only just now discovering what joys that amazing site holds), please send me the links!!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

It was a sweet, sweet Sunday.

The day got off to a lazy start.  Breakfast at the bagel store (a favorite, as the owners are completely and rightfully smitten with Samantha), and some Wii bowling lessons from Daddy. 

Next, a visit from Gramma and Grampa and a quick piano lesson. 

It's funny how she's able to keep a tune so much better when she's playing the notes while singing (no, as much as I'd love it, she's not a prodigy - Gramma pointed to each note first).

Samantha talks incessantly about Middle C

I told my girl that after Gramma and Grampa left, maybe we'd go outside.  "Outside?  To play?  Mommy, Daddy and Sammi?"  "Yes, baby."  "To fly a kite?"

You know what?  I hadn't thought about it, but that's a fantastic idea!

Too bad the gusty, inconsistent wind didn't have the same aspirations. 

"Come on!  Let's go to the playground!"

Another fantastic idea. 

Cold, but fantastic.

"Hi!  Welcome to McDonald's!  May I take your order?"

Coincidental run-ins with good friends are the best.

Cold, windy, unscheduled playdates followed by steaming hot chocolate and mint marshmallows are even better.

By the way, white shirt + hot chocolate = art smock.  :-)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Oops - Jammies Fail

We get a lot of paperwork home from Samantha's school.  I mean, save-a-forest kind of paperwork.  I think if we were to reconstitute all of the pulp in all that paper, fluff it up and mold it back into a tree-shape, I'm pretty sure we could solve the global warming crisis.

Certain things you can't avoid, like Sammi's art projects and her academic work - how proud we are seeing her writing worksheets, each letter carefully created within the dotted guide lines, each curve, though shaky, forming a word.  I'm more than happy to get those.  But some stuff, well, let's just say I'd probably rather get it in an e-mail (or 50) and leave it up to me to decide if it should be printed out or not.  I'm willing to bet we could fund the cost of building a new school with the amount of paper the County could eliminate...  I do understand, though, that having a visual reminder in people's hands is often the best way to make a point or to spur action.  Just not for me.

Am I making excuses for this morning?  Nah, but I just thought I'd mention that...

Today was Pajama Day at school.  To be honest, I saw it on the paper schedule that had come home at the beginning of the month, and I remember thinking, Oh, cool!  I won't forget it this time! (as I have on all previous Pajama Days).  Then the schedule worked its way to the very bottom of the mountain of papers and forms sitting on the kitchen counter (yes, I should be weeding through this more often...), and, well, I forgot.

So Samantha was one of only two children in her class this morning that wasn't in their pajamas.  Not a big deal back in preschool, but this time the kids noticed.  And not like it's a bad thing, but I do want to try to keep her as involved as possible, running as much with the others as I can, and standing out in ways that I'm actually able to prevent makes me feel kinda bad.  I don't mean to make a bigger deal of it than it is.  I guess it hit me pretty hard this morning, though.  She didn't mind, she wasn't at all self-conscious about it.  I know that's what counts.  And it's not like I couldn't have run back home and gotten her some jammies to wear, but let's just say this was a little bit of a wake-up call for me to try to be more organized, to try to pay better attention.

A jammies fail is certainly not the worst thing I could do.  I'm going to let this be a little lesson to me, though. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Toy Boy

A friend of Steve's gave us his Wii console and games.  Pretty darn exciting for us, as we have wanted one for some time, and in addition to hours and hours of family entertainment, it could provide a fun, in-home way to burn calories for all 3 of us during these long winter hibernatory months of blubber-building.  (Okay, I'm speaking for myself only here, but it makes me feel better to include the others...)

Steve (to Samantha, on his way out the door yesterday to pick the device up from his friend):  I'm going out now to go get a new toy for you!

Samantha:  Boy?

Steve:  Did you just say, "boy?"

Samantha:  Yes.

Steve looked at her quizically, unsure of exactly what point she was trying to make.

Samantha:  I *like* boys!

Steve (honestly in need of just a bit more clarification here...):  Boys, or "toys?"

Samantha:  Boys.  And girls! 

A brief pause, then she quickly added:  But I *like* boys.

Steve:  You're too young...maybe in 20 years.

Sammi giggled then ran off to play.

Um...let's just stick to the Wii here, shall we?

(Psssst...what are your favorite "active" Wii games for kids?)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Wednesday Whimsy: Photo Flashback: The First 4 Months

I look back at old photos, and have such a hard time being able to visualize the squidgy little newborn as the same Samantha we know today. Her personality certainly hasn't changed much - feisty and willful then, feisty and willful now, only with the added feature of being able to use words and much more capable actions to show us how feisty and willful she is. And boy, does she.

We'd gotten a new digital point-and-shoot in the weeks before Samantha was born, a step up from the digital dinosaur we'd been using.  Somehow I managed to throw just about every photographic convention I'd ever learned from my father and from my classes at the University out the window in favor of  the old, standard snapshots to capture the squirmy little being that had just joined and had already enhanced our lives.

One month old.  I was too scared to bathe her, up until she was big enough to sit on her own in her bathtub.  That, and clipping her nails, were exclusively Steve's jobs.  I didn't even want to change her clothes in the first few days she was home, leaving that to him or anyone else who came around to visit.  How on earth could you make those delicate little arms go into sleeves?  Would this delicate little china doll break if I tried?  Better to pass that massive responsibility on...

At 2 1/2 months old. Wow, where did that red hair go?? 

At 4 1/2 months, on O2 at home after OHS.  It was pretty torturous, and I can only say how grateful we are that it only lasted a few weeks before her sats rose enough to kiss that noisy monstrosity of a machine goodbye.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Bittersweet and Twisted

Twist, twist, twist...

"Hands down, honey."

...twist, twist, twist...

"Baby, please put your hand down..."

...twist, twist, twist...

"Samantha!  Stop twisting your hair..."

And so it goes, on and on and on. 

It's a fairly recent phenomenon, within the last few months.  She began to pull at the fine hairs, the straggly bits framing her face that had come loose from her braid.  Not pulling hard, but absently tugging, breaking bits off and ensuring that it didn't continue to grow to its full length.  In recent days (or has it been weeks?) she's been twisting it, her hands fluttering up, rubbing it into a ball, stopping only when re-directed with a distraction, or the shake of a parental head. 

Yesterday it hit its worst point, a point of no return, a point that now requires scissors to remove the tangled, matted dreadlock that resulted from her incessant mauling.  She knows she shouldn't do it, and even says as much, but she can't help herself.  This morning I bolted her hair down with a row of hair clips, and gave her teachers instruction to re-direct if they see her doing it.

Sensory?  I'm sure it is.  But why now?  Why this?  We'll mention it to her OT this week and see what he says, but in the meantime, do/did any of your children ever do this?  What did you do about it?  How are they doing now?  How long did it last?

Monday, January 23, 2012

6 Degrees

LinkedIn is like the game, 6 Degrees of Separation.  You can see all of your own connections, and how many connections you share with each person, as well as how you are attached to people you may not yet be connected with.  Make sense?  Like, for example, if I look up one of my old colleagues, it'll show me that I'm attached to them through one or two other people, going back 4 connections.  Or something.  I'm still figuring it all out.

But the alluring part is this - you never know how you may be connected to someone.  I recently looked up a non-work-related connection on LinkedIn who just happened to be connected to one of my work associates.  Completely random. 

Now that's not to say that they're best buds or anything, or if they even know each other personally, but somehow they've got that connection

Facebook is much the same way, although not quite so technically geared towards tracking connections.  But, of course, you can still see when you share "friends" with someone, and who they are.  I love that part of Facebook, but in all honesty, since the majority of my "friends" there are in the Ds community already, and the vast minority are non-Ds-related, it's super-rare that those two worlds cross paths in any way. 

A couple of days ago, I discovered that a non-Ds-related friend (someone I knew in London 20 years ago) started posting some Ds awareness articles on his wall.  I thought that was super-cool.  He knows about Samantha, and has donated to our Buddy Walk team as well.  One of his "friends" commented that they had a young daughter with Ds, and they thanked him for posting that.  I noticed that they also shared 2 other people from the Ds community with me, and I've now added that friend to my friends list, too. 

Not quite sure what my point is here, except that I think it's pretty awesome to watch worlds collide, to see paths cross in the most tenuous and random of ways.  To help open people's minds and spread awareness across those far-reaching networks of virtual friendship, through communities that have not yet been touched by our beautiful children. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Happy, Happy Friday (or, More Reasons to Love Shutterfly)

Friday!  Whew!  I thought it would never get here.  Traditionally, this is one of my absolute busiest weeks at work every year, and whether in the office or at home, it's been difficult to think of much else.  Today's a bit of a "coming down" day and I can breathe again (somewhat), so I'm tapping this out in the 10 minutes I have to scarf down my Frosted Flakes before hightailing it to work. 

I'm going to sing Shutterfly's praises yet again today, as earlier this week they sent me an e-mail coupon code for $20 off any purchase of $20 or more, with an expiration date of Wednesday at midnight.  Now this is certainly nothing to sniff at.  $20 off anything at Shutterfly?  That's pretty darned exciting! 

Well, especially if you have time to create something before the deadline.

Which I didn't.

But I wasn't going to let that one get away.  Nevermind that I had absolutely nothing in mind to make...


The Samantha the Princess book I made for Sammi! 

So, with 3 hours remaining until midnight on Wednesday, I got to work.  It's not perfect, it's definitely not terribly interesting and I didn't have enough time or energy to take full advantage of Shutterfly's great book features (LOL - the first time I typed that I accidentally wrote "feathers...") and to add any of the frills or even to add any additional words, but I quickly stuck some extra pictures in and filled out the 20 page minimum needed to print (run-on sentence, anyone?).

And, since I needed to have a $20 minimum purchase, I ordered two.  I know who the second copy is going to, but can't talk about it here yet.  Let's just say it's not going to family (sorry, Mom - I'll make you a copy at some point if you want it!). 

At the very last second, as I was about to make the final purchase, the coupon code didn't work.  *sigh*  Why does this always happen??  But after a quick e-mail to Shutterfly customer service, I got a response first thing in the morning telling me that the code was now loaded into my account and I could go ahead and use it that day. 

Have I ever mentioned before how much I love Shutterfly??
Shutterfly offers exclusive layouts and designs so you can make your book just the way you want.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Photo Flashback (May 2009)

Sorry - this is an absolutely craaaaazy week, and I have barely enough time to think, let alone write any actual blog posts (well, not at this point, anyway), so I'm substituting some sweet flashback pics of Sammi from early May 2009, when she was just a few weeks shy of turning 3. 


Monday, January 16, 2012

Once Upon a Time...

I thought that motherhood would automatically grant me the superpowers to fabricate dazzling tales of magic and intrigue, with my words weave the rainbow-hued landscapes of childhood,  permit me to sing an entire catalog of earthy folk tunes from memory, in the voice of an angel - you kow, all those things that make such beautiful memories for children to carry with them from babyhood, on to their own next generation of offspring.  Sadly, I have none of that, and certainly no songs past my croaking of the usual standards, ABC or Twinkle Twinkle, and absolutely no imagination when it comes to telling stories.

None, I'm embarrassed to say.  And I'm really putting myself out on the line here by sharing with you the one, single, uber-pathetic story I have managed to create on my own, to present to Samantha, time and time again, because I have absolutely no idea what else to say.  Thankfully, she hasn't objected...yet.  And thankfully she's usually much happier to have me read a book to her every night at bedtime, effectively letting me off the hook.

For Sammi's and my next Learning Program session next weekend, my homework from our last meeting was to create a reading book personalized for Samantha, something she could read and enjoy over and over again, that would likely mean more and connect better to her than other books.  Not like she hasn't connected to a gazillion other books already, but it is nice to have something special, made for her.  I haven't laminated or bound the pages yet, but will take care of that this week at FedEx/Kinko's. 

I actually had a bit of fun making it, as I enlisted Samantha's help ahead of time.  I told her I was making a book for her to read, and I needed to take some photos of her reading a book, playing a game and having a tea party.  She said, "Sure!" and was incredibly cooperative, so I got the shots for pages 2, 3 and 4 with her assistance.  These kinds of books really are beneficial when teaching your child to read - these are words and concepts that they relate to.  Some of the words in this story are still unfamiliar to Samantha, but for the most part, she has taken a good stab at it and I've helped her out with beautiful, things, once, parties, and happily.  But you can bet, with a few more reads, she'll have them down pat, and you can bet that if they turn up in another one of her books, they will no longer be unfamiliar to her.   

And now, for la piece de resistance, as my ears turn pink and I cower under the covers in horror at my definitive lack of creativity...

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Joys of Strep (No, Really!)

So maybe the word Joys is a little bit misplaced here, in describing that vile, oh-so-contagious illness (muy contagioso, as I have learned to say to Sammi's aide in times of need - hey, if I'm going to learn any phrase in Spanish, I guess it may as well be that one...).

But in all honesty, there's a lot to be said for it.  As wretched (ooh, how I love that word!) as one feels in the throes of fever, delirium and the miserable sensation of swallowing large, pointy objects, the quick turnaround to recovery is all that much more sweet.

Sammi has strep.  After a perfectly good day at school on Wednesday, followed by two hour-long therapy sessions, she was still bouncy and full of energy.  By 6pm, when Daddy asked her what she wanted for dinner, she burst into tears.  Usually a good indicator that something's up...  Samantha, for all of her playing-doctor, telling us exactly what hurts during the role-play, being the model patient, is, in all reality, a pretty horrible patient.  She tells us nothing when something's really wrong.  She shuts down, puts her hands behind her back, looks at her feet, and responds to all questions, "Nothing.

"Does your throat hurt?"  "Nothing."

"Does your tummy hurt?"  "Nothing."

"Does your head hurt?"  "Nothing."

You get the picture.

However, Sammi was sporting a pretty hot fever.  Within an hour, she was at the pediatrician for a check-up.  Strep hadn't even crossed our minds, and the doctor, after looking down her throat and seeing nothing, thankfully decided to do a strep test anyway.

Ohhh, how I hate to put her through that. 

But the test was positive. 

Yay!!  Hooray for strep!!

This meant a few things - a) we knew what it was and didn't have to worry about some unknown illness, b) we could swing by the CVS drive-through to get antibiotics right then and there and get her started immediately, c) she'd be feeling better by morning, d) she could go back to school on Friday.

See what I mean?  Nothing to it.  (Oh, and I won't mention how ticked-off I was at the CVS drive-through person who told me to park across from the drive-through window to wait and she'd motion to me in 10-15 min. when the meds were ready, who then proceeded to either go to dinner or leave for the night and neglected to tell her co-workers that I was out there waiting, in the rain, with a sick, crying child, how after waiting 25 minutes, happy that Samantha had fallen asleep, and entertained by Facebook, I finally went back into the drive through lane to see if they were ready and they were, but who knew for how long??) 

And just to show how not wretched she felt in the morning, and to tell me how right I was with all of my whispered promises that she'd feel better in the morning, (all while force-feeding her medicine through a syringe as she screamed and flailed her arms), she woke up and announced, loudly, "Mommy!  I'm awake and I feel better!!"


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

What's in a (Post) Name?

Blog hits from Google searches.  That's what's in a post name. 

I've learned that if I want to make some sort of impact outside of our community, want to get people visiting who may or may not have a connection to us, I can craft some carefully-placed words in my post titles. 

For those of you who blog and check your analytics every day, you may find some pretty funny Google keywords that have driven people to your blog.   Sometimes those keywords are a bit disturbing, unfortunately, but you can usually recall a post that you'd written that may have contained those very words, albeit in a completely different context altogether.  And while these words are sometimes derived from content within the actual blog post, I think the stronger, more powerful, more likely magnets to draw and attract those searches to you are your titles

Back before Samantha's birthday party in May, I wrote a post about how the theme was Olivia the pig, and that I was doing a lot of the crafts for the party myself.  I thought I had some cute ideas, and hoped that others looking for birthday party theme/craft options might stumble across that post.  I titled it, Chasing the Crafty DIY Birthday Party.  After the party, I hoped that, like myself when I was trying to create the party, people would find my blog and see pics of the finished product, so I titled the post of party pics, Sammi's Olivia Party Picture Overload.  When she got a Pinkalicious bike for her birthday, an item that I think is really cool, I wanted to share that with the world of Pinkalicious fans out there who may do web searches for a Pinkalicious bike, so I titled that post, The New Bike:  Pinkalicious Rides Again.

I'm happy to report that I have gotten numerous hits on my blog from just such searches.  And I hope those posts helped some people, as others helped me when I did some very similar keyword searches.


When Sequenom's prenatal test, MaterniT21, came on the market, I frantically wrote a post to express my fear of what it would mean for my daughter's future, and the futures of so many like her, my fear of losing such an amazing and valuable population in the world.  I titled that post, MaterniT21.

Get where I'm going here?

When I start to write something I feel passionate about, I get a bit of a head rush, find it a little hard to breathe, like I've had one-too-many cups of coffee.  I feel that way now, like I can't let this go until I finish, like I may be making a difference in some way, no matter how small or insignificant...

Yesterday I got a hit from a search for MaterniT21 availability Colorado

Don't get me wrong, I've gotten visits resulting from searches for MaterniT21 before, after I wrote that initial post, but this one kind of hit home for some reason.  This time it wasn't just an anonymous, possibly innocuous hit from someone conceivably just looking for general information about the test, from someone who may even be from our Ds family wanting to know more.  This time, it felt directed by need, by someone actually looking for the test where they live, most likely so they can have it administered.

Did they stick around to actually read my post?  I don't know.  Did they feel even a little bit of intrigue?  Did they learn something?  Did they see how the happy parent of a child with Down syndrome feels, and sees her amazing life?  Did they see how beautiful our enhanced children are? 

Did they change their minds about what to do in the event of a positive test result?

I know it's all wishful thinking.  Wishful that maybe, just maybe, the titles of our posts, placed with such care and forethought, might change a mind.  Or a hundred. 

Keep that in mind as you write your next blog post.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Day at the Museum

Anyone who's been to DC likely knows this guy...

...and this guy...

...although maybe not this little lady (well, not quite yet, anyway).

Although her bravery and her intrepid spirit certainly makes her the person to know!  Who else could face down (uh, hand down?) an aligator and come out unscathed? (Don't worry, no "Do Not Touch" rules were broken - this big guy was in the museum's Discovery Room.)

Next educational Sammi purchase - a magnifying glass!  Wow, she loved that.

What's the point in these kinds of video displays when you can't even hear the audio?  Sammi looks like she's learning African proverbs and elephant tales, but she's really just having fun pushing the buttons to change the movie...

January 7th?  Eh, who needs a jacket?

After nearly 6 or 7 hours out and about, my over-stimulated, slightly rambunctious child and I made a quick stop on our way home to visit the lovely (and STRONG!) Miss Ellie for some baby cuddles and camera lens drooling (my drool, not Ellie's).  Needless to say, Princess was Out. Cold. in the car after that.  Funny how that works...

Friday, January 6, 2012

Friday Foto Flashback (September 2009)

I know that while the flashback photos are definitely appreciated, including by myself as I enjoy the trip down memory lane, they are still kind of cheating, as I don't have the time to actually write something that resembles anything remotely interesting.  So today I leave you with some pictures from September 2009, when Samantha was 3 years and 3 months old.  Oh, goodness, that 3rd one down just kills me...what a princess...

Thursday, January 5, 2012

WOW, She IS Super!!

Who's super?  America's Supernanny!!

I know this has been all over Facebook over the last few days, but I, myself, have not been all over Facebook much recently.  Oh, I know I update my status from time to time, but mostly that's from my phone, rather than from the simple comfort of my computer.  Thus, my ability to surf is cut back a bit.  I have said before that I'm a selfish Facebooker, and there is no small amount of guilt attached to that when people are so kind to comment on my posts and compliment my photos, and I feel like I miss so much of what everyone else is doing.

Wait...this post was not originally supposed to be about Facebook...I guess my guilty conscience needed a bit of purging, and yes, I feel better now.  Whew!

Back to the topic...America's Supernanny...

I am no longer a person who feels the absolute burning need to watch/read everything that comes along that involves someone with Down syndrome.  If you are one of those people, it's not a bad thing, and I have definitely been there myself.  Actually, at that time, I never thought there'd come a time that I'd ever say that I wasn't one anymore!  I think our lives have become settled and routine enough, with Down syndrome becoming such a back-seat topic, that I'm kind of at a take-it-or-leave-it place.  Doesn't mean I'm not interested, though, because I am.  I'm just not craving as much information as I was. 

When I heard that the new series, America's Supernanny, was going to feature an episode involving a family with a child with Down syndrome, a child whose behaviors were causing a rift between husband and wife, parents and children, I was a little bit ambivalent about watching it.  I set the DVR to record it, just in case, and Steve expressed some concerns that the show may make the child with Ds out to be a problem, rather than addressing the parents' inabilities to parent the child - pretty much the same page I was on in my reticence to watch. 

I watched it on my own lastnight, cautious, and not expecting much. 

And I was floored

This woman, Deborah Tillman, seriously knows what she's doing.  Apparently she has a degree in Special Education, and to see her in action with the child and with the parents was truly amazing.  No condescension towards the boy, plenty of scolding of the parents for setting low expectations for him, and loads of positive reinforcement and tools in place to help the parents learn how to parent him effectively while modifying negative behaviors and encouraging the positive ones. 

She also gave a very concise lesson to the audience about what Down syndrome is, and what it means for the 1-in-700 children born with it.  She explained it pretty much the way any of us would explain it, and I applauded her.

So positive, so mind-changing for anyone watching, such an excellent step in the right direction.

Ms. Tillman is from this area, and has 3 childcare centers that she owns and operates.  It's interesting, if you look at the website for the centers, it gives her name as one of the two people to contact for information.  Grounded, available, knowledgeable.  Just the kind of person we'd want overseeing our children's education! 

Okay, back to not reading Facebook...

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Ruler of the Rules

Or, I could have alternately titled this, "Miss Bossy-Pants."  Seriously, this child is out of control. 

In a good way.

I think...

Samantha is a real stickler for rules.  Not sure if this is a characteristic of the extra 21st chromosome, a kid-thing, a genetic reflection of her goody-two-shoes mommy, or a sign that we've done our jobs right as parents, but tell her the right way to do something, especially when it comes to safety, and she takes it and runs with it.
Nobody (that's Nobody) may ride in our car without a seatbelt.  While that's a rule I, myself, am only too happy to enforce, I don't actually have to, as my little guard dog, Samantha, has a 6th sense about it.  Let the car roll forward two feet with someone else in the back seat who hasn't yet fastened their seatbelt, and trust me, they get an earful from her.  Loud. And. Clear. 

*(Of course I will only mention in passing the night a few weeks ago, when we went to the Festival of Lights at a local park and allowed her the oh-so-naughty-and-dangerous luxury of sitting on my lap in the front seat...she really had the crap view for it in the back, the stadium nose-bleed equivalent, watching the beautifully-lit decorations at 15 mph either over our giant heads or through tinted glass...  I was surprised that Miss Bossy-Pants-Goody-Two-Shoes didn't protest conflicting moral standards, didn't show any kind of internal struggle with the battle between right and wrong, but we made it very clear that this was a one-time-deal...)*

Manners are another sticking point for her.  She says please when she wants something, thank you when someone gives her something, helps her or compliments her, excuse me when she belches (an increasingly frequent occurrence these days) or barrels past someone...you get the picture. 

On Sammi's last day of school before the Winter Break her class had a party, to which the parents were invited.  As I had to work that day, Steve attended with her.  A little girl from her class came over to the two of them and handed Steve a bottle to help her open.  After opening it, he handed it back.  Samantha watched the proceedings like a hawk, waited a few seconds after the bottle had been returned, then scolded the child:  "Say thank you to Daddy for the bottle."  Sammi spoke clearly and concisely, but the little girl, obviously not quite as good at the manners thing just yet, just looked at her.  Sammi repeated herself with a little more emphasis:  "Say *thank you* to Daddy for the bottle!"  It was clear to Steve that she was going to be like a dog with a bone if he didn't intervene, so he said, "She did, honey.  It's okay.

And Samantha was satisfied with that. 

It's just so hard not to laugh during these moments.  Samantha was absolutely right, and we have to be careful to reinforce and not to minimize the moments.  But we certainly laugh in the retelling, and look forward to passing the stories of her childhood down to her when she's older and can laugh with us.

I can deal with her instructing me to hold on to the railing as we go downstairs ("so you can be safe"), the need for her to hold on to my shoulders when I'm on the toilet in a public restroom ("don't fall in, Mommy!" - this one thankfully passed once she was big enough to sit on the potty unassisted...), the demand that we respond appropriately ("Say excuse me, Daddy..." - sorry, Steve - just splitting the examples between the two of us...LOL), the frantic plea to put dirty tissues where they belong ("no, Mommy, not in the toilet, in the *trash!*"), and all the other little Mini-Mommy/Daddy things she's observed and repeated so carefully and appropriately...

I guess a little bit of OCD never hurt anyone.

And now, just because...moments from spring 2008, 2 years old...
Looking at this photo is like looking at myself at that age...the resemblance is startling.  Exploring her world, lost in the moment...

A true child of summer, a ray of sunshine, finding joy in her universe, creating joy in ours.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

What Wonders Await?

I know I'm a few days late, but Welcome, 2012!  Oh, what wonders wait in store for us this year?  How could you, with your sleek-sounding name that just trips off the tongue, you with your perfect "2" bookmarks on each end, possibly top those amazing moments and milestones of your predecessor, 2011? 

Tell ya what...you'd better try your darndest.  I have very high expectations here based on 2011's stellar performance.  And don't pull any of that end-of-the-world crap.  I'm not buyin' it.  Let's just re-set that Mayan calendar, shall we?

And not to sweep 2011 completely under the rug, I'd like to pay tribute to a year that surpassed all we could have hoped for, by leaps and bounds, a year of the joys of childhood, the maturity into a young lady (Samantha, not me...), the end of years of searching for lost family, the making of new friends, and so, so, so much more.

In the words of the perfectly-coiffed, impeccibly-dressed, gleaming-toothed, incredibly boooooring Steve Jones (host of the X-Factor, if you didn't know...), "And now, the results, in NO particular order..."

1.  Steve's long search comes to an end (or has it?), when he finds a first cousin and two siblings for whom he'd been looking for many, many years.

2.  Samantha graduates preschool and begins Kindergarten, in circumstances we could only describe as perfect.  Perfect placement, perfect teachers.  After so much fear and trepidation, I just can't say enough about the last 4 months!!

3.  Samantha starts reading!!  We'd been working on it bit by bit for a year, starting in 2010, but 3 weeks into Kindergarten, she proved she's her mother's daughter by bringing home a library book, sitting down with it, and reading it cover to cover.

4.  Samantha loses two teeth!  Right on time.  Mommy and Daddy weren't really ready for that, but Child took it all right in stride!

5.  Samantha turns 5.  Oh, that was a tough one...my little baby's growing up!!! 

6.  Samantha decides that she's going to take being a big girl very seriously, and, two weeks before her birthday, decides that pull-ups at night are a thing of the past.  Hooray! 

7.  We all take a real vacation including a long road trip south and the beach.  Samantha was an angel the whole time.  Gotta do that again soon...

8.  Steve and I celebrate our 20th anniversary.  Wow!

9.  We see the removal of Sammi's bedrail and the child-proof doorknob on her bedroom door, allowing her a whole new freedom, which she respects beautifully.  Did we really expect different?

10.  Samantha's fine motor skills really take off - she writes her name on just about everything (future tagger, perhaps?  I once dated a guy in Germany when I was 15 whose name was scrawled on nearly every flat surface of the city we in which we lived - he carried his markers around with him...), and shocked me two weeks ago by buttoning up her cardigan all. by. herself. 

See, I warned you they were in no particular order!  But they all made 2011 a really exciting, special and important year for us.  I feel like I've learned as much as Samantha in some respects, and recognize that minds stay young and healthy by being open to continually learning new things.  Maybe next year I'll be 23 again, right??

Hope you all have a very happy and healthy New Year!

Samantha with the new toy kangaroo sent to her by a new friend/lost family member in Australia